The future of Macau’s gaming and hospitality industry lies with ‘mass market’ or middle class gamers, rather than the high-rollers who have driven its growth thus far, a report by industry analyst Deloitte says.

The Chinese-owned peninsula has pipped Las Vegas to become the world’s largest gaming market, with revenues expected to top $13bn by 2012.

However, the report says the industry should focus on the needs of “beginner” gamblers, to ensure continued growth.

“The thrust of future investment will be the construction of a ‘mass market’ for gaming, in which the casino experience will be a central attraction within integrated resorts,” the report says.

According to a HotelBenchmark Survey released by Deloitte earlier this year, average room rates in Macau have risen 66.8% since 2002, reaching $104 in the first quarter of 2007.

Hotel supply is expected to grow from 9,200 rooms in 2006 to around 50,000 by 2010.

As Macau looks to middle class Chinese gamblers, the hotel industry also needs to lift its game; over half of visitors surveyed by Deloitte prefer to stay in four or five star hotels but are unwilling to pay more and $130 per night.

“In order to build mass market penetration hoteliers may need to offer affordable luxury products, with first class services at budget prices,” Deloitte says.

Reported by Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh